You never know who you will meet on a cruise.

I recently wrote about our family cruise to Alaska.   It was an amazing experience to share the breathtaking sites and sounds of Alaska with the loves of my life- my husband, daughter and son.

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We are what people may call a “social” family.   We make friends of strangers easily.  And when it comes to long cruises – we make lots of friends.  So, it will come to no surprise that we met some very interesting people with extraordinary stories aboard our ship. And, they were our amazing Princess Cruise ship staff.

About our cruise staff

The one thing I must admit is that the Princess Cruise line is staffed with some of the friendliest people I have ever met. From across the globe their hardworking employees make the guests feel special and interfacing with them on a daily basis is a pleasure.

So, please allow me to give a few shout-outs to some of the outstanding staff that made our journey through Alaska phenomena.

Cheers to the Recreation Crew!

From fun games of bingo to trivia and even playing with potential Iditerod sled dogs, Clair, Gambal and Monica were amazing.  Claire hailed from England and Monica from South America.  Despite being onboard for extended periods of time and far from home their exuberance and  humor kept us laughing all cruise long. Plus who doesn’t like a balloon drop during the last night event!

 

And, the waitstaff deserves kudos, too!

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Our steward, Luis was as kind as you could be. And, the waitstaff was attentive and experienced with fine-dining practices. But, it was the two friends and waiters from the Island Princess Explorer’s Lounge that caught our attention thanks to their unending smiles.  One who I will call “H’ is a body double for John Legend. (Judge for yourself in the photo.). His friend is up and coming musical talent, Sabikey.  You can listen to his reggae soul beats at  Soundcloud here. 

 

He also has a video with a sample of his latest track.  I am pretty sure Sabikey has the kind of  talent that will get noticed – and soon. There is bound to be an agent or music promoter who is a passenger on one of the cruise trips!

 

Lastly, there has to be made mention of the Princess Cruise ship’s captain and his crew that kept us on course and safe. At no time did we feel that the security measures were lax. In fact, we found that they were quite vigilant with personal safety and also health of the passengers.  I loved that they requested hand washing before each meal and also provided tons of antibacterial soap and reminders that if you were at all sick to report it to the medical staff.

Thanks, Princess Cruises and The Travel Store for our fun on the Alaskan seas!

Read previous blogs about Alaska:

Traveling the Pacific Northwest: Alaska!

Hello Alaska! (Part 3 of “How we made a loser year end like a winner with trips to Hawaii and Alaska”)

 

p.s. I am not a brand ambassador of Princess Cruises or anyone mentioned in this blog. I simply am a happy traveler who likes to write!

 

A Visit to One of the Last Remaining Blockbuster Stores

This month my family ventured to the Pacific Northwest. We watched whales frolic and feed, walked glaciers and even explored villages and remote areas both by land and sea.  But, it was a little store in Anchorage that was deemed the “highlight” of our 12 – day excursion.  Yes, apparently one can relive their childhood by simply walking through the doors of one of the last remaining Blockbuster video stores in the heart of Anchorage, Alaska.

This Blockbuster store is under the management of Kevin Daymude.  “Blockbuster” as a corporation is long gone, due to the change of the video landscape.  Replaced by streaming services, such as Netflix, the demand for video and gaming rentals has dwindled to nearly “zip”.  However, in this part of the world, Blockbuster still holds relevance.  New and “antique” videos and games adorn the shelves and there is the requisite aisle of theater sized boxed candies. You can purchase older videos for under a dollar and don’t forget the popcorn and cotton candy!  The only “addition” to the Blockbuster of 20 years ago was a prominent display of movie memorabilia in the very front of the store, including some “goods” obtained from actor, Russell Crowe.

HUH?

There is a very interesting story about how Blockbuster of Anchorage and Kevin Daymude received Russell Crowe’s items from the actor’s “ART OF DIVORCE SALE”.  It would appear that the items were received via an intermediary who acted as a conduit for this Blockbuster store to receive these “treasures of cinematic history”.  Among the memorabilia were two director chairs from the movie American Gangster that were used and embroidered with the actors’ names – Denzel Washington and Russell Crowe. Plus, there was from Russell Crowe’s collection a  “jockstrap” that was placed in the display (and reportedly cost 7K!)

Who was the buyer of all these “artifacts” and what was the backstory? Well,  the person who purchased many of Crowe’s items would be none other than HBO talk show host, John Oliver. The reason why… well that is a whole other story. Let’s start with Oliver’s announcement via  Twitter from April 2018.

 

 And the reason why John Oliver bought these items?  I’ll let Time Magazine explain the “details” in THIS article.  


 

Why is this store still open while the vast majority have closed?  I had an opportunity to chat with Kevin  about the remaining Blockbuster stores in Alaska (and one in Oregon) and get more insight.   (There are two videos for easier uploading.)

 

 

 

 

 


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Lastly, if you do visit the DeBarr Rd. location of Blockbuster know that there are shirts and pullovers available for purchase.  My entire family bought one – how could we not!?! Plus, we walked out with a handful of those repurposed DVDs for 99 cents each!

 

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Traveling the Pacific Northwest: Alaska!

This is part two of a series on traveling the Pacific Northwest.  Part one may be found here.

 

“Wherever there were glaciers, the world was in a constant state of                        creation.”
John Muir, Wilderness Essays

 

First Stop: Icy Strait Point/ Hoonah

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Hoonah is located on Chichagof Island, less than 40 miles from Juneau. While once known for the canning of salmon,  only since 2004 has the town of Hoonah been known as a cruise destination.  The construction of an elaborate and “official” pier and tourist center known as Icy Strait Point has turned this fishing / canning port in to a great location for travelers to explore.

We were welcomed at the entry to “Icy Strait” by a group of teens singing and playing their ancestral instruments. (Little did I know that these teens comprised the majority of the high school students who remained in Hoonah for their education.)

HICCUP #1: WE NEEDED A PLAN B

One thing a person learns when visiting remote areas, even in the United States, is to be flexible with your plans.  Case in point – the  tour jeep company oversold their excursions so instead of a guided tour throughout the Hoonah area, we took our backpacks and hiked sans tour guide.   Getting to the town “center” was easy as the hike was only 1.5 miles over flat paved terrain. (Note: Bikes, strollers and wheelchairs could make this trek without problems as there are sidewalks and paths.)

Our initial stop on this impromptu hike resulted in us stumbling upon a small restaurant/ bar. The  Office Bar   is a lot like the infamous (albeit fictitious) pub, CHEERS – as you enter a stranger and leave with everyone “knowing your name”.    Jess, one of the bartenders,  was a fountain of information and on the “ready” to pour your beer and tell stories about the history and people of Hoonah.  Ask about snow accumulation and she will show you the “family album” of local residents helping each other during snowstorms and more. When you have had your fill of beer and peanuts, head on down a few more blocks to try local fare. Fish is the menu favorite and the Fisherman’s Daughter  is a fun little place with outside seating that attracts both local families and tourists.  When you leave this restaurant turn left and walk about two more blocks. There you will find the bald eagle’s nest across from the school.  There also is a totem pole demonstration.

Best of all…  whales grace the Icy Strait region in late May and June.  While we were at Hoonah we watched more than eight whales swim and feed right in front of us.  There is no mistaking that whales are a force to ‘reckon with.”  I held my breath, as a whale watching boat seemed drifted within a 50 meters of a pod of whales. But, all were safe! Below is a video of the whales eating from the strait gobs of fish! Apparently, one “lead” whale will catch in his/her mouth enough food to supply to the others in the pod.  The tell tale sign that they are involved in this activity is the “bubbling” that happens on the surface.   When you watch the video below look carefully for the bubbling formation in the water followed by four whales coming to the surface in almost perfect unison.

 

More about Hoonah and culture… 

The culture of Hoonah fascinated me.  The town is around 700 people and the depths of their pride is immeasurable.   Children are educated about their heritage by locals and their formal education occurs in the local public school until the 9th grade. Then they can opt to remain in Hoonah or go to high school school in Juneau. (Interesting fact: The graduating class of 2018 from Hoonah was nine students.)

Hoonah is a remote area and to access it means you either arrive by plane, helicopter or boat.  There are no roads that connect this village to another town across Alaska, including Juneau.  To view a map of the area click here. 

Hoonah residents are proud of their heritage and what the legacy they have built.  I thoroughly enjoyed our time and the gracious hospitality of all we met.  If you have an opportunity to visit – do it!

Related information: Princess Cruises

Juneau – The Land of Glaciers

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TAKU GLACIER

Do you remember the show “Northern Exposure”?  I swear it is about Juneau, Alaska.   Juneau is a small town with lots to offer and if you are like me, you will fall in love with it!  Cut off from other parts of Alaska, you can only access Alaska’s capitol by sea or air but there are a lot more amenities in Juneau than “nearby” Hoonah.

Juneau, perhaps, could best be described as quaint and mighty at the same time.  There are quaint small shops and restaurants, but then you have the mighty glaciers nearby.  Mendenhall Glacier is the closest and most famous of those available for viewing by tourists.  Our family ventured on a helicopter and went to Taku, a glacier that took about a  15 minute helicopter ride from downtown Juneau.  Kudos to Coastal Helicopters  for this educational experience, but first and foremost keeping us safe!    Our helicopter tour found us soaring high above the glacier field and parkland.  Nothing can quite describe what it feels like to view glaciers from above and then walk on one. We drank clear and clean “glacier water” and took a ton of photos. Our helicopter operator was knowledgeable, humorous and most of all – experienced!

 

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Want to really experience a glacier? Visit by helicopter!
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The thickness of the trees makes for a striking view from the air. 

 

Special Note:  I wish I had studied more about glaciers and icebergs before I traveled to one. I think it would have made the experience much more enriching.   Also, for those less adventurous, consider the Mendenhall Glacier Visitor Center.

 

Stepping back in time with a trip to Skagway!

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Skagway reminds me of a movie set.  Nothing seems real because it all looks so perfect and as if time stopped 60 years ago.  I kept thinking that I was in the backlot of a movie studio – that is how clean and perfect it is! Our intent was to walk the town and then hop on the Skagway White Pass and Yukon Railroad.  Mother Nature had a different idea as a rockslide prevented us from being able to make that excursion, so our family resorted to “Plan B”.    The guys went on tour of the area via bus, while the “gals” hiked the village by foot.

A few notable highlights… 1) Go to the SKAGUAY NEWS DEPOT! It is charming and IMG_1495also reminds me how much I miss establishments that sell printed material! I had a lovely conversation with one of the salesclerks and she told me that Skagway has over two-thousand residents during the Summer.  However, when the snow flies, so do the cruise ships, and the town shrinks to a mere 900 or so.  When the winter becomes a deluge of snowstorms all comes to a halt. Like Juneau, Skagway is dependent on ships to bring goods or planes.  Newspapers are flown in daily except during the winter months.

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2) Sweet Treats  is one of those stores that you walk in because it just smells so yummy!  But, once you clear the doorway you realize that you are on sensory overload!  Decorations from Mexico cascade down from the ceiling alongside Japanese lanterns and other “party decorations”.  I was curious if there was a “theme” to this place and was told, “It is meant to be colorful.”  My friends at Sweat Treats – you succeeded!

3) Be sure to visit the White Pass train depot.  Even though we couldn’t travel by train to visit the Yukon due to the rock slide, the depot itself was worth a visit! (Note: Railroad crews were working very hard to remove the rock and check the train track for any issues. They were hoping to open the White Pass railroad for business very soon.  Get updates here via their email.

 

GLACIER BAY NATIONAL PARK

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There are not enough words in the universe to describe the majestic beauty of the Glacier Bay National Park.  I awoke early to grab a “front row” seat on the cruise ship and photograph every glacier, iceberg, mountain goat, etc. that I could see!  What I learned from the park ranger who gave the passengers a very nice description and running commentary about Glacier Bay, was that we need to do MUCH BETTER in taking care of our environment.  The glaciers are receding at alarming rates and perhaps global warming is to blame.  If you do only ONE THING on a trip to Alaska – please see up close glaciers and icebergs.  And, if you are on a cruise, please don’t make references to the Titanic or sing the theme song from the movie.

Related; Here is a link to help learn more about the wonders of Glacier Bay.

And, this link will bring you to some terrific footage taken by photographers and videographers.

Below find my video of the ice pulling away from the glacier. There is a sound, similar to the rumble of thunder, right before the tumbling of ice and rock occurs.  I am certain that I didn’t try

 

BLUE ICE?

There is a phenomenon with glaciers that is called “caving”. That is when the ice starts to separate and fall in to the water below.  It is fascinating to watch.  The glaciers, by the way, often have a blue hue. Read here for an explanation about why this happens.

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FINAL CRUISE DESTINATION- WHITTIER

Our last stop was the small coastal village of Whittier, Alaska.  We arrive at midnight and there was still enough light to see across the region.  I was amazed that this part of Alaska truly gets nearly 20 hours (or more) of light during late Spring/ Summer.

Here is a photo I snapped about 12:15 a.m. from our cruise ship of the small village of Whittier. This photo is unfiltered / unretouched. Shot with an iPhone 8 Plus.

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LAST THOUGHTS and SOME RECOMMENDATIONS….

On a scale of 1-10, I would rate seeing Alaska by cruise a solid 8.  There were a few hiccups that impacted our cruise, but, overall the experience was very, very good!

Here are a few quick recommendations:

  1. Do read up about glaciers, fjords and the history of the region you are visiting in Alaska.  I wish I had and I couldn’t really “google” from the ship as we didn’t have an internet package.
  2. Prepare for rain and mud.  We were REALLY LUCKY to have had great weather for the majority of the cruise, but it could easily have been foul weather.  BOOTS are a necessity 12 months a year!
  3. Bring sunblock, bug spray/ ointment and moisturizer as you can get a lot of sun, bugs or dry air in this regions.
  4. Have a very reliable camera/ cell-phone and protect it from wet weather and breakage with sturdy cases.
  5. Be sure to take photos of important documents and your cruiseline card, in case of theft or loss.
  6. Consider tacking on a land adventure – such as visiting Denali National Park, Seward or Anchorage.
  7. Don’t sit in your cabin or stay on the ship. Go and explore, take excursions and make memories!
  8. I used a travel agent and highly recommend doing so.  Linda Kahn – Ferrell of the Travel Store in Malaga Cove was excellent! 

 

Coming soon from this blog:

  • We found the last of the Blockbuster Stores – In Anchorage, Alaska!
  • It Takes a Village to Make a Cruise Successful!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Traveling the Pacific Northwest – Part 1: Seattle and Vancouver

Family vacations can be exciting, exhilarating and sometimes exhausting.  But, with lots of planning, a spirit for adventure and a sense of humor – the family vacation can be a success.  I am writing this blog as our family completed the first part of our “vacay” and is about to journey on to “part 2” – a cruise through the inside passage of Alaska. I hope that my chronicles helps other families learn how to plan a successful trip and give insight to those who may need special accommodations when they travel. By all means add your “pearls of wisdom” in the comment section, too!

First stops: Seattle and Vancouver. 

I was expecting rain. Doesn’t everyone talk about the Pacific Northwest, especially Seattle, as being nothing but rain, rain, and more rain? Isn’t the reason Starbucks got its’ start in Seattle was to keep people warm when they were cold and wet from the damp weather?  Well, let me tell you – after nearly a week in Seattle and then Vancouver our family didn’t see ANY rain.  We did experience glorious sunshine, lots of delicious coffee shops, restaurants galore and a ton of fun!

Seattle is a bustling city that one can experience largely on foot or with the assistance of a very efficient rail system.  To get to our hotel (Hyatt Olive 8) from the airport meant an easy train ride and then walking about four blocks. The staff was extremely accommodating, especially since we originally were sandwiched between two rooms with screaming babies. They moved us quickly to a quiet floor and all was good!

Seattle is a fun city and there is no shortage of excellent restaurants (My favorite was a small French bistro on 1st Street – Le Pichet.)  We ordered a number of dishes and found all of them to be excellent! In addition to the culinary scene, be sure to check out these places if you find yourself in Seattle:

1. Go to the Space Needle but spend much more of your time at  Chihuly Gardens and Glass. The glass works by Dale Chihuly took my breath away.  His story can be found on his website.   As an accomplished artist, the state of Washington shows their native son’s prolific works of art proudly!   Moreover, his glass sculptures are exhibited in more than 200 museums and gardens worldwide.  The glassworks are so colorful that they seemed to dance in place when the light hits them “just right.”   Below are just some of the many photos I captured from this amazing place!

Special note for travelers: You can purchase a combo- ticket for both the Space Needle and the gardens. It is worth it,  but GO EARLY to BOTH.  The wait in line for the Space Needle for our 2pm ticket was an hour. While the view was spectacular, it was crowded and people were not “at their best”.  Plus, they are still “under construction” and that meant less room for all the people sandwiched in the viewing area.  My advice – make your trip to the “needle” during a weekday.

The Chilhuly Gardens, however, was an exhibit that offered lots of room to meander. It also was wheelchair friendly. With that said it probably would be a challenge for young children and those that need to “touch”.  This is definitely not a place that welcomes people, especially little ones,  who are accustomed to a museum that allows for a tactile experience.

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2. Next to see in Seattle… Pikes Place Market.  This is just a huge hoot! From flying fish to the gum wall. Yes, I said a GUM WALL. Apparently people have put thousands of pieces of gum on to a wall under the market.  While it is interesting, it also is gross. (Have a germ phobia? Stay away!) There is a Ferris wheel and plenty to keep kids occupied. The walking is fairly easy except for a few rough hills from the seaport to the Space Needle.  Don’t fret! There is Lyft, Uber and taxis to drive you. Plus, a monorail.  Most of all – there is a ton of food vendors with reasonably priced meals.

 

3. Travel from Seattle to Vancouver is great via AMTRAK!  The seats were very generously sized with power outlets. And there was WiFi on the train for those who needed to be “plugged in”.   Food and beverages are served on board, although I would bring your own coffee.  There is ample room for luggage (big bags are taken from you and given back at the end of the trip.) Have your camera ready as the ride passes through areas that make for great photos and video! Below is a snippet of video of the ride through Bellingham Bay. BRING YOUR PASSPORT!

 

3. Now let’s chat Vancouver!  Ah… this city has intrigued me for years as it is the place where so many TV shows and movies are filmed. The CW channel has made Vancouver their flagship “set”.  Again, we we visited when the weather was clear and temperate.  The people are super friendly and this town gets an A+ for walkability.  If you are tired of going up and down some of the hills – hail a cab – there are plenty of them! The only downfall – like Seattle, this city is not cheap.  Even with the exchange rate favoring the US dollar, Vancouver is an expensive place to vacation.  We spent quite a bit of time visiting quaint shops and eateries trying to stay away from the expensive restaurants. Our stay at The Burrard Hotel  was very good and the prices were reasonable. The staff was superb!  Our stay would have been “rated” excellent had there been a pool or hot tub/ spa on the premises.

 The waterfront area (where the cruise ships dock) is filled with fun little shops, but true finds are on the side streets and at the Granville Island Public Market. The cute  Aqua Bus  takes you from Vancouver “proper” to Granville Island in two minutes (no exaggeration!) You also are able to ride a bike across a bridge, but it would appear that cars are not welcome unless there was a distinct purpose – such as dropping off shop owners and their wares.  The Aqua Bus also can take you to other points around Vancouver.  While there is a ramp to get from the Aqua Bus to the dock, it does not appear to be accessible for those in a wheelchair.  You can obtain much more information regarding accessibility here.

       Special Note to travelers:  The Burrard has an elevator but not sure it is wheelchair sized. Laundry is at the hotel and there is parking.

 

The Skyline of Vancouver from Granville Island Public Market

 

Coming up next in this series… Discovering Alaska… the cruising experience. 

 

 

Yes or No? A Sign Language Explanation – repost

Often I am asked how to sign YES and NO in sign language.  Indeed there are formal signs for these words, but, frankly the obvious choice is to shake your head YES or NO.

 

If one wants to learn how to sign YES, simply make the handshape S (as below). Then bob it up and down as if it is a head nodding the affirmative.

YES! Move your wrist up and down as if this fist is your head bobbing up and down to say YES!
YES! Move your wrist up and down as if this fist is your head bobbing up and down to say YES!

 

To make the sign for NO use the “N” manual alphabet handshake and close it to the “O” handshape.  Of course, adding the headshape NO is a bonus!

 

When you say NO but you mean WRONG.  Try this sign instead!

WRONG is made with the Y handshake to the chin
WRONG is made with the Y handshape to the chin

 

What if you are indecisive? 

The MAYBE sign is made with hands being alternated up and down. As if you are saying, “If not this one, then that one”.

MAYBE - alternate hands up and down
MAYBE – alternate hands up and down

 

And, when you see DOUBLE ZEROS, that means NOTHING, NO WAY and even in Spanish – NADA!

 

 

Double ZEROS - tend to be made near the head or chest area - depending on the context.
Double ZEROS – tend to be made near the head or chest area – depending on the context.

Happy Signing!

 

*** Please note that SigningFamilies.com materials can now be found HERE at LouiseSattler.com

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Educator’s Sign Language Lesson Plans #2

ACTION WORDS!

Now that you have learned a few simple words. Let’s learn some simple action words!

Many times we need words to for every day activities.

Starting with words appropriate for all ages:

 

EAT

TO EAT unspecified-10

 

DRINK

TO DRINK

 

SIT

 

TO SIT

 

 

 

GO

 

TO GO

 

 

GO TO THE BATHROOM (POTTY)

SHAKE your WRIST with the “T” handshape

GO TO THE BATHROOMBATHROOM

 

SLEEP (Young Child Sign)

TO SLEEP

 

For Older Students:

 

To DRIVE 

TO DRIVE

 

 

To WANT (pull hands towards you)

 

TO WANT

 

PRACTICE:  Now that you can spell finish these signed sentences

1- I (point to self) EAT ________

2- I (point to self) DRINK______

  1. I (am) GOING to ____________

Also, fingerspell these places :

 

DISNEY WORLD

CHURCH

TEMPLE

HOME

SCHOOL

MALL

STORE

LIBRARY

EXTENDED LEARNING: This sign has an X handshake but none of the words it can convey in ASL start with the letter X.  Which words (there are at least 5) can you make with this handshake? (Hint: One word this can communicate is TO NEED)

1- TO NEED

2-

3-

4-

5-

 

TO NEED
TO NEED and many other words that use this sign/ handshake

 

Recommended viewing for older students and adults: (note mature themes)

Oscar nominated:

  1. Children of a Lesser God
  2. Beyond Silence – German / English subtitles/ German Sign Language

Sign Language Instructional Lesson for Educators #1

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Welcome to the Educators Lesson Plans for Signing Families!

The first lesson in learning sign language is actually talking to your students about Deafness and why some people may “talk with their hands”.

Great resources to set the groundwork for older students to talk about Deafness and Gallaudet.edu

How to approach the topic of Deafness?  Preliminary assignments for students.

1- Ask your students if they have any experience within the Deaf community. You may be surprised to find out that some have quite a bit of knowledge.

2- Do any of your students have previous exposure to sign language. Perhaps they know signs such as MOMMY and DADDY or the alphabet / numbers?

3- Some students may benefit by being given the assignment of watching television with no sound or captions for 30 minutes. Can they follow the storyline?  (Older kids should be encouraged to watch a variety of shows, such as the news. Discussion points can include what was easier to follow?)

Second portion of this assignment can include asking students to watch television or videos WITH captions! Another discussion can be the value of closed captioning and the laws that enable closed captioning for equal access.

 

**FIRST SIGNS to TEACH:

Preschool students: (These signs are ready for download on our GALLERY PAGE)

MOMMY

DADDY

I WANT

MORE

FINISH

 

**Kindergarten age and up:

ALPHABET : VIDEO for learning:

NUMBERS 0-10: VIDEO for learning

 

PRACTICE:

Practice letters by first signing common objects and names.  2 letters. Then 3 letters. Then more.

Practice in front of mirrors.

Practice by spelling names of movies, books, famous people and family and friends.

How to reinforce learning creatively:

MANUAL ALPHABET:  Play games such as SCRABBLE, Hangman, Word Search, Crossword puzzles

NUMBERS:  Math problems, memorizing digit series, Sudoko, Battleship

EXTEND LEARNING FOR OLDER STUDENTS (Middle/ High School)

1- Do all countries use the same sign language?  What country is American Sign Language most akin to?

2- Deaf people often learn to sign to communicate. Could sign language be a good communication method for non-deaf people and if so, which circumstances?

3- How do you think sign language can help you learn other subjects (such as spelling or math problems)?

So you want to work in social media … Welcome to my inside scoop

I am a career chameleon.  I have worked many years in the rewarding field of education as a Psychologist, Sign Language Instructor and Interpreter,  Parent and Teacher Trainer and much more. I LOVE the milieu of education.  It is one of the most “warm fuzzy” careers you can have because you are able to make a difference in the lives of students on a daily basis.  Yet, it also can be stressful (very) and with the add on of responsibilities outside of the prevue of education being placed on teachers, many educators are leaving the field.  To some degree that was me – ten years ago.

Admittedly,  I was ready for something ELSE.  Something that wouldn’t result in burn -out.  As it so happened around that time I  developed sign language products to help novice learners, especially parents and First Responders.  I used social media to market these products and amazingly – they sold like hotcakes!   YES!  This was the catalyst that I needed to find my “second” career. And, due to  crazy twists and turns in my life,  I landed into the world of social media.

Fast forward, now I want to take this opportunity to share (and educate) others about what I have learned working in social media this past decade.  Consider this the “inside scoop”…

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Photo: Pexels.com

 

Point 1:  To  have a social media career is to know that social media as a career is not about making random fun posts but about constructing a well thought out strategic plan for 1-3-6 months – at a minimum. 

This is a profession that is not for the weak of heart or for someone who requires a lot of sleep.  The first step is to become educated.  What are the nuances of each of the most used and requested social media platforms?   My advice – learn about them and their algorithms and analytic programs.  Become an on-going student of media and marketing  as these are professions that change on such a rapid basis that it may make your head spin.  And lest not forget about the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) regulations.

Sidenote:  If you are involved in social media for pay or product – this is a must read! Start by clicking here for FTC guidelines for brands and influencers. 

Take away: A career in social media is not about the “posts” but the strategy behind the posts. 

Point 2:  Posts should be meaningful and client/ product centered.   

When you work in social media, unless you are a key influencer and are making a living doing so, chances are you are working for a client representing a brand.  It is important to remember that you (or your agency)  have been contracted or employed by a brand to work on their behalf.  This means that your focus is on the client.  Every day you will be looking at their competitors, curating related content, creating eye-popping engaging posts, and analyzing the impact of your campaigns.  Unless you are instructed to be part of the campaign – your face (literally) needs to be out of the picture.

Take away: Focus on your client if you truly are a media strategist.

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logo of Mixi.jp

Point 3. There is social media in other countries. Know what is popular there. 

The mistake we often make in social media in the USA is thinking that the only social media platforms “worth” anything are the ones we use here in “Old Glory”.  Not true.  If your brand wants to connect with an international audience then you need to familiarize yourself with these (among others),  too: MIXI (Japan) and  Youku (China).

 

Point 4: Social Media is a profession.  Don’t dilute it by working for free

If you have read this far chances are you want to work in social media and that means  needing to getting PAID.  No one will take you seriously if you give away all your expertise.  This also doesn’t help grow social media as a profession.  Gratis work for an occasional friend or non-profit is considered “ok” – but be cautious.  And, you are worth more than just a few dollars for your knowledge.

 

Point 5: Get professional liability insurance. 

 

This is a profession where you most likely will be a freelancer. Suppose that you work for a client who feels your strategy “didn’t work” and wants to now take you to court for “breach of contract”.  I highly recommend having liability insurance and also a legal team to help you – “just in case”.  While there are many good insurance and legal service companies / individuals, I use  Legal Shield   for legal services and  HISCOX  for professional liability insurance coverage.

 

Point 5: Be CLEVER!  Use your own content or give credit where credit is due!

Almost every person has a cell phone.  It also is one of the most important “tools” a social media manager can own in their personal arsenal.  BE CLEVER! Use great apps and computer programs to architect  social media campaigns with animation, gifs,  video, images, graphs and much more that will be “eye popping” and keep your audience engaged!

Most importantly – give credit to where your content was curated.  If the photo is not your own – let people know that! If the quote you used was authored by someone else- make sure you acknowledge them.

Sidenote:  Favorite programs include RELAY,  CANVA, RIPL, LUMYER and TYPORAMA.  All are apps and RELAY  and CANVA  have desktop versions.

Q8 What havent we asked that you would like our twitter audience to know @Cadefoundation #CADEfoundation (camille provide link
Sample Twitter Chat post made using an adorable stock photo by Pixabay for the                       CADE FOUNDATION

Point 6: Have Fun!

It is no secret that my work in social media includes being a social media correspondent. The opportunities I have been afforded has allowed me to meet, greet, interview and often become friends with many who are in the entertainment, tech and media verticals.  People often think “all I do” is work as a social media correspondent.   It has been a “ton of fun” to create campaigns and events that are high profile or to attend them as a social media reporter/ correspondent.

Below is a sample of where you may have seen my “work” as either an attendee or correspondent.

The US FESTIVAL 1982:  I had the pleasure to work with ICON Television and Music to help build their social media presence and create an event for their official film premiere. This was an exciting event as the film’s story is about a two weekend musical event solely paid for by Steve Wozniak, one of the founders of APPLE.  (Check it out on Amazon and other online stores.)

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Photo by Louise Sattler during US FESTIVAL 1982 Premiere

 


 

SUPPORTING SOCIAL GOOD CAUSES with SOCIAL MEDIA

RACE TO ERASE MS GALA

Below you will see photographs I have snapped from the ORANGE CARPET at the 2016 annual gala for ERASE MS.  I simply love this organization and am proud to have donated my time to help them promote about resources for those with Multiple Sclerosis and the medical advancements made to help those who have been diagnosed with this disease and related disorders.

 


iPain Foundation Gala

The iPain Foundation helps those who have chronic disorders, such as Lupus or RA.

 


Nyle DiMarco Foundation for Sign Language Support for Parents and Deaf Children

 

This foundation is near and dear to my heart as helping families to learn how to communicate with their Deaf child with sign language (ASL)  has been one of my  life-long career goals.

 


Last thoughts…

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I love covering travel events – such as the LA TRAVEL and ADVENTURE SHOW

In closing… I hope that this article has enlightened those who wish to pursue a career in social media.  And remember that this career is not for everyone.

The educator in me wants to leave you with some last nuggets of information:

  1. Follow reliable online tech and media outlets (Mashable is one of my favorites)
  2. Join groups that help to educate without judgement on Facebook and especially, Linkedin.
  3. Remember with social media, like with almost everything else – is dependent on knowing your business by being educated.  In other words… education does matter!

Good luck! And remember life is too short – so do what you love.  I am lucky… I get to work in both EDUCATION and SOCIAL MEDIA!

~Louise

VISION GLOBAL WIFI – In search of bloggers/ influencers and those who love to travel! (Part 2)

I recently  penned a preview of the Vision Global WIFI   pocket systems.  Today, I will be sharing my experiences as a user of these products.

I first was introduced to the Vision Global WIFI  product line while attending the LA TRAVEL and ADVENTURE SHOW.  I had just returned from Japan, so immediately felt an overwhelming source of irony that I had spent ten days while in Japan seeking viable WIFI options would find them in my own backyard just a day after my return!

After several meetings with representatives from Vision Global WIFI, I agreed to take two of their products out for a “test run” and also have an affiliate account  if others were interested.  (Consider this my disclaimer, too.)

The two products I have been using are their G2: 4G Wireless Data Terminal for international and United States data needs and the MiFi device by Verizon, strictly for use within the USA.  Both arrived within a day of my ordering and were packaged with all the accessory ancillary pieces in one nice carrying pouch.

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The G2/4G is a hunk of a powerful tool.  It is a little bit hefty but, when you consider you are able to connect with lightening speed to WIFI it is worth the few extra ounces.  This device  came with international connections – to help with recharging, etc. I would definitely suggest this product to those “on the go” with their travels.  That includes bloggers and influencers who need to be “always on the ready” for their trips.

NOTE: Keep in mind that Global Vision WIFI is seeking bloggers/ influencers for their new affiliate program, so if that describes YOU – connect here.

 

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In all honestly, I have been toting around the MiFi device for a few weeks now and love it.  As you may know, I often am working as a social media correspondent in places that have little to no WIFI.  You would think that a major hotel or red carpet would come equipped with WIFI – but no such luck.  In lieu of eating up my data plan, I have been using this MiFi device and give it two thumbs up.  The cost is almost a “break even” if I was to increase my personal data plan instead of using this device. The advantage is that other media correspondents and myself could connect to the same device at the same time. Thus, we didn’t waste unnecessary data on five devices.

The plusses are many, but one of my favorites is the seemingly endless battery life.  I am not the best at recharging WIFI units, but this one seems to have an extra long battery life and that has saved me many times.  Here is an example, just this past week I was visiting at the magnificient Terranea Resort.  While my friend and her hotel room had WIFI we had so many devices going at once during our work meeting I was afraid we wouldn’t get super connectivity.  Then we heard a band playing outside her room.  What a concert?  Yes, indeed!  Apparently, One Republic was booked at the resort for a private concert and we had first row seats! Now I needed a stronger signal to record this impromptu event and didn’t want to use a ton of my data – so I popped out my Vision Global MiFi device and three of us were able to record and post to social media without any interruption in service or connection.  The device was still charged after being in purse for almost a week!

Takeaway- have this device in your pocket/ pocketbook for those times when you need WIFI and a strong signal without wanting to use your data plan.

 


 

I recently interviewed Luke Nakagawa, representative from Vision Global WIFI.  Here’s more of the scoop:

(Louise) How many devices can connect to these WIFI devices?

(Luke) One device can connect up to 5 devices. Great for family vacations.

(Louise) Where are users able to get services?

(Luke) The G2 can be used in more than 60 countries alone. (That is the device I mentioned above).  We cover more than 130 countries with all the devices available. 

( Louise) What about service in the United States?

( Luke) The US device is mainly for customers that visit US, not customers looking to rent for domestic use. 

(Note: I would almost have to add that US customers would like this device if they are going places where they don’t want to use their data, such as vacations, media correspondents, travel by Recreational Vehicle, sporting events, etc.)

( Louise) Any discounts or incentives?
(Luke) After 13 days our long-term discount kicks in so looking at a more affordable connection up until 30days.
The extra message from Vision Global WIFI is simply…  If you are a blogger or influencer and often travel – they want to talk with you.